Sex Slavery

Apr 2nd, 2007, in News, by

Sex slavery in Indramayu, West Java and Jakarta.

Teenage girls in the villages of Java are sometimes sold by their parents to brokers who then take them to work in brothels in Jakarta or elsewhere such as Dolly in Surabaya, Saritem in Bandung, or one of the many other red light districts in the towns of the country.

In one village, Bongas, Indramayu, West Java, the going sale price of a pretty young girl is about 9 or 10 million rupiah (about $1000). One woman, Sanni, said she and her husband took their 15-year-old daughter out of school and sold her to work in a brothel in north Jakarta because the family needed the money.

We were in a very miserable situation. There is no work here. So we had no choice but to send her to Jakarta.

Sanni’s daughter is kept locked up in the brothel most of the time but is allowed to return home once every two months to take money to her parents.


Another girl in the same brothel says she sometimes feels angry that her parents have done this to her but that she needs to help them because they are in a lot of debt. She is afraid to tell her parents that working as a prostitute makes her very sad.

It is said that people in Bongas began hawking their daughters around ten years ago when Indonesia was hit by an economic crisis. The poor farmers and labourers learnt that they could quickly make a lot of money from their children and some have done very well out of the deal. Prices for girls have gone up sharply in recent times, from 200 to 300 dollars a few years ago.

Sukim, a leader of an anti-trafficking organisation, says his group tries to prevent the girls from dropping out of school by giving free education in the village and by teaching girls skills like cooking so they can find better jobs.

Anti human trafficking efforts are hampered by the unconcern of leaders in society over the matter however. Sukara, the village chief of Bongas, says he warns parents whenever a girl is sold that it is not the right thing to do but he never reports the matter to the police.

The sex slavery trade in Bongas is starting to take a heavy toll, with five HIV-AIDS deaths in the village in the last few months. This is said to have caused some parents to hesitate over selling their daughters. Al Jazeera

27 Comments on “Sex Slavery”

  1. Sex slavery? I don’t know what to say, this is really a messed up country. A girl is priced as much as $1000? That is insane. But I guess we cant really blame the people in Indramayu about that, well can we blame someone else instead? Like the government maybe?

  2. John Orford says:

    I just heard a similar story that the bbc was running, but based in a village.

    People shouldn’t be naive enough to think that this is confined to one or two immoral villages, it happens everywhere where there is extreme poverty and desperation.

  3. Dimp says:

    Anti human trafficking efforts are hampered by the unconcern of leaders in society over the matter however.

    I think the only concern from the leaders in society is the soaring prices of these girls.

  4. Colson says:

    Guebukanmonyet: If this is true, it’s awful, it’s a shame. Objectively poverty is the main cause. But morally the traffickers, criminals of course, are to blame. The clients as well must be without honour and for sure they are breaking human laws for having sex with minors. And culturally the obligation that’s forced on children to take care of the problems of their elders (instead of the other way round) is a factor as well.

  5. Robert says:

    This is a very, very sad story. On one hand the Indonesian Government is spending money on peacekeeping operations in Lebanon, while on the other hand girls are being sold in their own backyard like slaves.
    The publication of the Indonesia Playboy causes a lot of unrest amongst religious fanatics, and the editor of PB ends up in court, while these practices aren’t even reported! Certain religious people have their mouth full about morale or the lack of it, while these highly immoral matters seem to pass by unnoticed.
    Does anyone know if these human traffickers have ever threatened by groups like FPI and FBR? Or do they do only ‘high profile’ cases like Playboy?

    The sex slavery trade in Bongas is starting to take a heavy toll, with five HIV-AIDS deaths in the village in the last few months. This is said to have caused some parents to hesitate over selling their daughters.

    Only the prospect of death seems to cause hesitation amongst parents. Bye, bye morale.

  6. Yunir says:

    John Oxford says,

    People shouldn’t be naive enough to think that this is confined to one or two immoral villages, it happens everywhere where there is extreme poverty and desperation.

    Thank you John. The sex slave industry is apparently a lucrative industry. Indeed, it is not a unique case for Indonesia. In fact, in Indonesia, it’s not as bad as some other parts of the world (including U.S) – not that I’m implying Indonesia’s situation is not bad.

    I think the situation is this:
    1. Poor people exist.
    2. Poor people need money.
    3. Poor people realise they can make money by selling children and actually execute this realisation.
    4. Rich people buy children.

    1 & 2 are simply facts and the standard of living of some people in Indonesia. It is not a crime for someone to be poor. It is also not a crime for someone to want money. But it is a condition that is undesirable and it is something the Government should solve.

    But as for the porblem of sex slavery, 3 & 4 are more direct. And these are criminal offences. It is then the duty of the Government to police these criminal activities altogether.

    Solving poverty would take a long time. But solving the sex slave problem can be done within a short period of time. But of course, resources will have to be geared towards solving this problem. And when this happens, some policies will be without sufficent fundings.

    Robert says:

    The publication of the Indonesia Playboy causes a lot of unrest amongst religious fanatics, and the editor of PB ends up in court, while these practices aren’t even reported!

    The issue with PB is that PB was a highly visible public affair. Sex slaves are obviously criminal activities. It would be stupid for the slave traders to actually go vocal on their activities. And because they are secret affairs, there is hardly any information that the public can use to end this industry.

    But this does not mean the public should just give up and ignore the problem. Support groups that offer counselling for vicitms or request local government to investigate the issue further are a few examples of what the public can do to help ease the problem.

  7. Naga says:

    “On one hand the Indonesian Government is spending money on peacekeeping operations in Lebanon”

    The govt is not spending a cent on UN operations, they are being paid by the UN to go there, otherwise they wouldn’t be interested.

    “Does anyone know if these human traffickers have ever threatened by groups like FPI and FBR?”

    The FPI and FBR are not real groups, they are proxies for the military and political elite, the same ones who are profiting from prostitution.

  8. Mohammed Khafi says:

    There is a very good article in Inside Indonesia from 2004 on this very issue.

    It is a great sadness when our government are more preoccupied with foreign affairs than they are with dealing with domestic issues. But part of the problem is that thease issues have been addressed by NGO’s but there has been very little change in the situation. Poverty was mentioned earlier as a driving factor, but the poverty is manmade, created by landowners, who have bought the farmland from the original farmers, I guess most of the landowners are members of the political or military elites, to deal with this problem would be like shooting themselves in the foot. Why should they worry about the poor, when they themselves have more than enough of everything?


  9. Bas says:

    Nah… so at last we start talking about the real Indonesia. But I am afraid reality is much worse that what is described in these articles.

    I say that at least 80% of Indonesian males, poor or rich, are dealing, have dealed or will have contact with underaged sex “slaves”. All the ORBA culture is based on that, prostitution. A few days ago for example a girl from Indramayu explained to me she was the “toy” of the big boss of P.. …., a famous Jakartanese newspaper since she was 15 years old. That’s just the way it is here.

  10. Mohammed Khafi says:

    80%? I hope you have some evidence before you start making statements like that Bas?

  11. dewaratugedeanom says:

    According to an article published in the Bali Post some time ago, selling daughters and wives also happens in Banyuwangi, East-Java, where, as it seems, the practice is not considered as a criminal activity by a part of the population. They refer to it as ‘paternalisme’. Many of the girls and women end up in the ‘tourism industry’ of Bali. Hence everyone in Bali knows what the word ‘Banyuwangi’ refers to. There is even a Balinese song about it.

  12. Dragonwall says:

    I find thst hard to condone a family’s willingness to trade of their flesh and blood for money.
    Forget old or modern world, slavery must not tolerated whether it is a he or she, young or old. In Indonesia or anywhere in the world. It is not right. I urge the government to step in and interferre in the name of humanity, in the name of Indonesia’s national pride and integrity.
    Employment like, a person works in a household as a maid, helper I think that is decent and not considered a slavery trade though they were placed through employment placment agencies throughout Indoneisa and or elsewhere.
    But not selling them in exchange for money in favor of luxury. Such paternal thinking is what I meant to say “the Indonesians have a high rate of illiteracy” which Sputjam rebutted with UN reports stating Indonesia had a high rate of literacy.
    For a person to accept being a prostitute as their profession, if they are above the age above 21 and chose the profession at her own accord and under no force circumstance, stress or duress it is acceptable like in Nevada, Singapore, Malaysia, HK, Macao Europe anywhere on provision that their health are in constant monitor by doctors and educate them into healthy sex trade. The reason for these countries to categories this trade as a profession is to cater for those who do not have a spouse or single to reduce the possibility of criminal activities such as rape and molestation cases.
    For a parents to sell their children in exchange for cash or earning an immoral earning from one of their kins such as his wife or daughters is a crime. It is against human and constitutional law.
    Indonesia should make it a priority to cracked down on this and clamp down hard on them. By cracking them down could prevent Indonesia from having an epidemic like in Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Latin countries etc. Mexico’s HIV rate is climbing due to many of those who cross the border to work in the US and having sex with unregistered prostitutes and not knowingly inflicting themselves with HIV and Herpes virus and bringing the diesease back to Mexico to be transmitted to their kins.
    Unlike european countries Indonesia does not have the money to spend on HIV treatments like the US.
    THE FUTURE OF INDONESIA LIES IN THE HANDS OF SBY and see what kind of action the short VP is taking.

  13. iamisaid says:

    Really now, is sex slavery something worse than all the other ills that Indonesia has?

    Take a look at Indonesia’s post-Independence era and it is one sad unending story.
    The Indonesians are unfit to self govern.

    Now, having said that is being obnoxious but give me one good reason that there is hope in Indonesia.

    In Indonesia life is as simple as this. It is a dog eat dog way of life. Is that any different from any other nation in the world?

  14. Gerson says:

    In my opinion it is a shame that this still has place in any society, the truth of the matter is that there are men from wealthy nations that fuel this sorry of sick and disgusting operation. I feel for those souls that will not be able to know what an infancy is like, and have to live with the burden of having to grow up in a matter of minutes of torture in the hands of a horny fat bastard. You know exactly who I am talking about. Those sickos that if you have ever been to Panang or Bangkok they are at the bars just waiting for the pimp to bring them either fotos or the girls themselves. May they rot in hell. Shame on a country that turns their backs on this cruelty.
    I ask each and everyone of you to be alert in your own communities. If there is something going on or you suspect of it take action and say something to the authorities. Who knows you might be nominated for an award for doing something as great as handing someone their freedom. Talk about priceless.

  15. Georg Indra says:

    it is interesting to see that everyone blames the poverty and the government etc. etc..

    In fact it is just people that do not have any moral standarts who sell their kids… they should be put in jail… not the kids… but the kids customers too.

    In reality its the girls that get arrested…

    Some moral education is needed and that has nothing to do with money. There are plenty of poor people in Indonesia who go proud and “clean” about everydays life…

  16. emuh says:

    Speaking about Sex Slavery in Indonesia, in some ways, islam teaching can be blamed. Why? Coz in Islam, women is subordinated, they are abused by men. Even Muhammad, to whom muslim idolize, did sex slavery by marrying many women, and the worst thing he married girl-child, so scary because the follower of Muhammad definitely do the same thing their teacher does.

    So, if we want to eradicate trafficking in women and girl-child, despite the enactment of the law concerning eradicating human trafficking,first of all, ISLAM itself should be reformed. Most of the teaching, I found, full of evil things, such as killing people in the name of God (how come???), killing other people who are not muslim is ok, marrying many women, beating women, and so on. Then, how come fasting one month in ramadhan can cleanse your sin, so you become purity, it is illogical…and because of this, doing sins is ok because it will be cleanse in ramadhan, oooh dear so stupid.

  17. Liza Heath says:

    That’s very sad story Indeed. The government should open wide the opportunites for to work to press down the unemployment people. not just focus having the offices only in Jakarta and in the village people have no income cause there is no work. people need food to survive how they manage their lives without have income. Hope when they have income they won’t do those stupid behaviour sold their kids to help their parent. that’s insane!!!!! I reckon give people enough education, free school maybe will help next generation to change to be better quality person.

  18. Dalan says:

    Unfortunately, education and opportunity aren’t the answer ultimately–it’s a matter of the heart. Aren’t the ones purchasing these sex slaves by default the better-off members of the public? In the 1930s, Germany was a center of education and culture in Europe. Often the very officers that performed the unspeakable horrors were those who were the best educated. For instance, doctors disapassionately created “medical experiments” that murdered Jews in the most excruciating ways possible. Will this sex trade stop before the hearts of those who are purchasing the girls change? Unlikely. Strict laws must be passed, and harsh punishments doled out to those who disobey them. But only when these awful people realize that God has made each person with their own intrinsic worth, and accepts their place in His scheme of things, these travesties will continue.

  19. Tony says:

    It sounds to me that very few of you have actually seen the brothels of North Jakarta. Being half Chinese Manado, I am taken to these places with business associates–who are also Chinese Indonesian–from time to time. Although I politely decline, I do, on occasion, strike up a conversation with the employees that work there and they tell me a lot. For starters, it amazes me how these places can operate in the open so freely. I am often told that these operators have the military behind them and that they are untouchable.

    It angers me to see groups like FPI harassing restaurants, Miss Indonesia and the publishers of Playboy when the young women in these places really do need guardian angels–the FPI is only brave with helpless civilians but afraid the military/police/chinese connection in North Jakarta.

  20. diyu says:

    The only way to stop the trafficking of underage girls and boys is to arrest the people who buy them. Get rid of the demand. Get rid of the problem. Australia any other countries have finally started cracking down on their citizens who frequent Asia for the sole purpose of underage sex, Now isn,t it about time Indonesia done this to her own pedophile population.

  21. art_is4ever says:

    One thing that needs to be remembered is that the US is currently the largest consumer of sexual slavery services and child sex tourism. This is a **GLOBAL** problem, and the US is the BEST customer to these pimps. This kind of thing is happening all over the world with estimates of victims numbering well above 20 million, and profits for the people running these disgusting businesses estimated in the BILLIONS. When I say everywhere I mean everywhere including most US cities…

    Read up on this folks and put a LOT of pressure on your elected officials the response to this and the timing of that response has been pathetic!

  22. Yusuf says:


    If we adopt sharia every body one is punished it will stop quickly but if we said o no that is hard pain simpathising well those very people will millions in the world for no good just. Compare punishing one that would scare thousands of individual to do this practice compare that to millions of women and children’s lifes and let me know thanks

  23. James says:

    I tried to rescue a girl from sex slavery. I fell in love with her and married her and we have a daughter. But now she has cheated on me taken my money and all these people care about is money money and money for all their immediate family. They say they believe in Islam but they only believe in the devil. Now I am afraid my daughter will end up like my wife who wants divorce. Now I bet my wife will go back to the sex trade and try to get more money from someone else. They have no heart and are worse than the devil. These people are just used to asking for money it doesnt matter if it is 1000 or one billion. It is never enough they dont know how to use money and they just will get it any way but loose so to speak.

    Adapting Sharia law like in Aceh is the only solution now. The parents must be executed for being infidels. Would Allah do that to his children I should say not.

  24. Oigal says:

    Adapting Sharia law like in Aceh is the only solution now

    Yup nothing like a few whippings of children and ojek drivers to improve the morals of a nation? I guess you have not noticed what cess-pit Aceh has become since Sharia was introduced.

    Actually I do feel sorry that you have been ripped off but to condemn a whole nation of women to the dark ages seems just a bit tough. On the plus side you were lucky it was only the immediate family.

    As the old saying goes you can take the girl from blok but you cannot take the blok from the girl.

    As a matter of interest, and it may come in handy for others. I found the easiest and generally successful way to head off the inevitable hands out for money is to have a ready list of unpleasant jobs you need done.

    “Auntie Siti needs 2 juta for a operation”

    “No problem, tell Uncle Iman to be here at 5:30 tomorrow morning and bring a shovel and a very old set of clothes, its time we replaced that septic tank”

    At least 60% of the time, they are “no-shows” and “never ask agains” and if they do show then all well and good you get the job done fair exchange. Lastly, it gives the better half an out with the family, she can tell them hey we would help but you not want to help us.

  25. jim says:

    So many people are quick to blame the very young girls who enter into prostitution, the parents who sell them or often just give the girls permission to go to the city to work and the government. What about the sex preditors both Indonesian and foreign who prey on these children. They use there dominace, financial, social and physical to exploit and destroy young lives. I am especially critical of American and Europeans who travel to Indonesia and other poor countries to rape young children. Because that is what it is under the laws of their home countries, rape. they use their wealth to destroy lives of children that they could help rescue from poverty. They often then make videos of their crimes or blog about them as if they were some how manly feats. How file and disgusting. I would hope that any Indonesian who sees or knows of a westerner using an underage indonesian boy or girl would report them to their embassy and local police. As to those of you who think sharia is the answer take a look at the countries that have it. Men abuse women much more than in Indonesia. Do you think adding more pain and suffering to the lives of the victims will bring justice? Koran adalah korban anda tidak dapat menghukum korban cekup untuk menghentikan bersalah.

  26. rebel with a cause says:

    for every man a wife for every woman a husband let he who is without sin cast the first stone jesus speaking to the crowds (for we do not wrestle with flesh and blood but powers and principalities in high places also be on your guard against evil ;;slavery of various forms has been around forever

  27. Robbie.c says:

    This is a war waged by the rich on the poor if a 18 yr old girls id sold for 10 mill rupiah how many rich indo. Males have 10 mill rupees

    So what do they do no wife sit around drink beer smoke cigarettes to death how many die of smoking tobacco cigarettes in Indonesia alcohol a year 500,000 +
    Why is not alcohol Tobacco no illegal drugs
    Is sad when smoking marijuana in Indonesia. can get death penalty but sex with a 15 yr old minor indo girl for 300,000 rupees is good for tourism
    Back in Disneyland land of the free provided you are rich a prostitute costs $ 200 Aud per hour 2 mill Rupees same issue how many rich white males have a spare $200 Aud on a white female who should be put on the (do not fuck list )
    So if a Asian girl of suitable age marries a western man of suitable age is a win win situation
    What does Islam offer her
    Muhammad marries a girl child pretty Comon how many wives are Muslims allowed who is allowed to beat their wives pretty scary to a 15 yr lob girl

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